U.S. CIO Suzette Kent: Don’t change IT modernization plan; ‘turbo boost’ it

Suzette Kent speaks April 5, 2018, at the IT Modernization Summit presented by FedScoop. (FedScoop)

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The administration’s IT modernization goals, as outlined in the recently released President’s Management Agenda, probably don’t sound unfamiliar. And they shouldn’t, said Suzette Kent, the new U.S. CIO, during her keynote at Thursday’s IT Modernization Summit.

“[These] may sound like some familiar things,” Kent said, as she referenced retiring legacy systems, exploring emerging technologies, augmenting the IT workforce and more. “I hope it is. Our mission objectives are the same.”

Kent continued: “A lot of the things we’re doing are still the same. We’re not totally pivoting away from the agenda that the agencies have been on and the dedication to rationalization and modernization.”

So what’s new here?

“What’s different now is the critical linkage of the modernization goals, and our commitment to workforce development, in a lockstep path forward,” Kent said. “And, very important, the expectation of accountability and delivery of quarterly results.”

While modernization is in definition an ongoing, long-term process, the office of the federal CIO will place more focus on short-term achievables moving forward, Kent suggested.

“Our focus is accelerating [modernization] and moving to a turbo boost,” Kent said.

In a later panel OMB deputy CIO Margie Graves added to the picture — each big IT modernization target has component quarterly goals, she said. And tracking quarterly results will help keep modernization on track and build trust in the process among both citizens and government employees. “We didn’t get here overnight, we’re not going to get ourselves out of it overnight,” Graves added. “Modernization is never done.”

The end goal of all this, Kent reminded the crowd, is to improve agencies’ ability to achieve their various missions, deliver “excellent” customer service and “be great stewards of taxpayer money.”

“That’s what our citizens expect,” Kent said.

In service of that, “a room full of people dedicated to IT modernization warms my heart,” Kent said in closing.

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IT Modernization, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), President's Management Agenda (PMA), Suzette Kent
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